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Niagara’s young women to hear from inspiring females, learn about careers in trades and technology

Starting this month and continuing through Spring 2021, Niagara College will play virtual host to female high school students across Niagara who will explore careers in trades and technology. Exploring Your Future – Dream It, Believe It, Do It is a new partnership between NC, DSBN, Niagara Catholic and event sponsor OPG to make female students aware of the many lucrative career pathways that exist in industries they may not have traditionally considered.

The online series kicks off on Thursday, October 29 at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom, where over 120 students will have the opportunity to hear from female mentors whose stories, experiences, and advice will inspire young women to think about exciting careers in trades and technology.

“The skilled trades and technology are areas where there is great demand, and they offer extraordinary opportunities for young people, especially women who are still under-represented in this important field,” said Vincent Shaikh, NC’s dean of Media, Trades and Technology. “We’re very pleased to work with our local school boards and Ontario Power Generation to offer an opportunity for female students to explore trades and technology as a pathway to a successful and rewarding career.”

Guests include keynote speaker Jessica Polak, OPG’s senior projects director, Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment, and Lisa Caruso, a professor in NC’s Mechanical Techniques program.

Jessica Polak
Exploring Your Future – Dream It, Believe It, Do It keynote speaker Jessica Polak, Ontario Power Generation’s senior projects director, Darlington Nuclear Refurbishment

“Ontario Power Generation is proud to sponsor this collaborative event, which is about giving young women an opportunity to explore careers related to math, science and technology,” said Polak. “Hopefully, these interactive sessions will spark their interest in furthering their education in these areas.”

“I have enjoyed a career as a tool and die maker in the manufacturing industry for over 25 years, and now I am fortunate to help train the future generation of skilled workers,” said Caruso. “I hope that sharing my experience will inspire young women to consider a career in the trades and encourage more female representation in the industry.”

Students will have the opportunity to learn more about specific career paths through additional events that they can register for based on their interests.

Future sector-specific events include:

  • Thursday, November 26, 2020: Construction – with Annette Dearling-Manchester, professor, School of Trades, Niagara College
  • Thursday, February 18, 2021: Motive Power – with Emily Chung, licensed automotive service technician and owner, AutoNiche Auto Repair Services
  • Thursday, March 11, 2021: Industrial and Power Technologies – with electrical & control technicians from Ontario Power Generation
  • Thursday, April 29, 2021: Service Sector – with Selah Schmoll, co-owner, Incoho restaurant

All events will be held at 3:30 p.m. via Zoom.

In advance of each event, registrants will receive an event package filled with career resources, as well as a program guide and swag from NC.

“Students will also get materials sent to them so they can participate in hands-on activities during the virtual sector-specific events, from wherever they’re tuning in from,” said Jill Russell, DSBN Consultant for Technological Education and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program. “Our students really value the chance to hear from strong, enthusiastic, and accomplished female mentors, so it’s important that we’ve been creative and moved this opportunity online.”

“Hearing from successful female mentors has really changed my perspective. I will definitely keep an open mind about going into the trades.” – A grade 10 DSBN student

“This is an incredible opportunity for the young women in Niagara, to learn from trailblazers who are leading the way in the skilled trades and technology,” said Ivana Galante, Niagara Catholic’s Business-Techology/Specialist High Skills Major/Co-op/Ontario Youth Apprenticeship consultant. I encourage all of our participants to keep an open mind and be willing to learn about the amazing opportunities available to them.”

Female students interested in registering or learning more about these events are encouraged to reach out to their school guidance counsellor.

The Exploring Your Future series is the latest effort from NC and its valued partners to inspire young women to seek career opportunities in trades and technology. Both school boards have held previous in-person events encouraging female high school students to explore traditionally male-dominated fields.

Comments from past student participants

“Hearing from successful female mentors has really changed my perspective. I will definitely keep an open mind about going into the trades.” – A grade 10 DSBN student

“The main message I will take from this event is to be open to new opportunities. Girls can do anything they put their mind to and do it with power and strive to be great.” – A Grade 10 Niagara Catholic student